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Loud neighbours may have sparked Slovakia killing spree

ANGER over loud neighbours may have caused a heavily armed man to kill seven people before committing suicide in a rampage that has shocked Slovakia, authorities suggested yesterday.

But with six of the dead — including a 12-year-old boy — identified as Roma, or Gypsies, officials also left open the possibility that Monday’s bloodbath on the outskirts of Bratislava, the Slovak capital, was racially motivated.

“We are looking into all motives,” Interior Minister Daniel Lipsic told reporters at a news conference. He identified the attacker, who used a machine gun and two pistols to target his victims, as Lubomir Harman.

Police Chief Jaroslav Spisiak, speaking alongside Lipsic, said some of the deceased lived in the same building as Harman, 48, and “had a rich social life” that included having many visitors over to their apartment in the rundown neighbourhood of Devinska Nova Ves.

Harman, who had been unemployed since August 2008, was single, legally owned six weapons and was a member of a “soldiers-in-reserve” club, Spisiak said. Considered to be from a good family, he served in the military between 1981 and 1983 but was never a professional soldier, authorities said.

A suspicious package found yesterday near the killing site turned out to be harmless, police said. Specialists were called to the scene but determined that the package did not contain a bomb and turned out to be an old radio, according to Bratislava police official Csaba Farago.

Monday’s shooting rampage, which also wounded 15 people, has shaken Slovakia. A special government session dedicated to the attack took place yesterday afternoon and a requiem in commemoration of those who died will be held this afternoon in St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava. Prime Minister Iveta Radicova has declared tomorrow a national day of mourning.

Eight of those wounded remained hospitalised, with two, including a 33-year-old Czech man, in very serious condition, said Rut Gerzova, a spokeswoman for Bratislava’s University Hospital.

A policeman who was badly hurt has improved.


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